“An idealist is a person who helps other people be prosperous.”
Is idealism dead or alive in America? According to Merriam Webster, idealism is the attitude of a person who believes that it is possible to live according to a very high standard of behavior and honesty. These are noble benchmarks to shoot for, especially if you work in a position of public trust or that is focused on leading by example. For example: President of the United States, United States Congress, federal or state government, military service, legal profession, medical profession, and parenthood to name just a few.
Recently, I have noticed that anyone who stands strongly for what they believe in is attacked, mocked, or ridiculed by the press or power players who disagree. We recently watched the abortion debate in Texas, the affordable health care act debate in Washington, the budget/government shutdown circus, and the tragic Benghazi debacle in Washington. In each of these events, there were good people who tried to stand for what they believe in and they were pilloried by the press or worse. Is idealism dead?
If you didn’t have some sense of idealism, then what is there to sustain you? ~ James Carville
The best leaders I have served for and with all held a high degree of idealism. It was once seen as a key character trait of a high quality person and a mandate for a potential senior leader. Why has that changed?
The current requirement that everything must be “politically correct” seems to have driven idealism underground. Politically correct appears to mean that the “mainstream media” is OK with what you say and believe. To many of us, the mainstream media is a cesspool of immorality and hell-bent to deliver non-stop bad news; they are quickly taking our country down a very rough path towards an unknown destination devoid of ethics, morals, or values. Political correctness is alive but is idealism?
Not too long ago, I watched Senator Ted Cruz talk about why he was standing firmly against the affordable health care act. I sensed a strong desire to serve the people he was elected to represent who do not support this act. He mentioned that numerous businesses and agencies (to include Congress) had received special exemptions to the implementation of this act from the President or his administration. Those who were on the show after him saw nothing wrong with the President doing this but they had real heartburn with Cruz’s idealistic statements and his position. Was his standing for his ideals wrong?
I am not a supporter of Senator Cruz but I do support the ideal that he was striving for: what is good for some should be good for all. This is idealism in action! It seems odd that this simple cornerstone of a just and democratic society is seemingly ignored or mocked and no one really seems to give a rip. Have ideals as an element of our humanity died?
Many Americans agree that our moral fiber has slipped considerably in recent years. I believe that our “ideals” have reset to a level that is verging on unacceptable. When our government, elected by and for the people, establishes laws, policies, or practices that allow for some to escape the implementation, intent, and full compliance, something is broken and our ideals may be dying.
I am an idealist and I am proud of it. I believe in a very high standard of behavior and honesty. It has made me the person and leader that I am. I expect if from those who are put in positions of trust and those who have taken an oath for the character of their service. Am I wrong or are you also an idealist?
This blog post was originally posted on jetsr.com on September 30, 2013.